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‘Scoring was optional’ – How Ibrahimovic was transformed by Capello at Juventus

Former Juventus boss Fabio Capello has explained how he gave Zlatan Ibrahimovic a nudge in the right direction to make the Swede become one of the outstanding players of his generation.

Ibrahimovic joined up with Capello at Juve in 2004 from Ajax but the legendary Italian coach explained that at that time the forward was lacking the killer mentality that he has displayed subsequently in his career.

He would go on to score 23 goals in 70 Serie A outings with the Bianconeri, and while he touched even greater heights as his career progressed, Capello has argued that he began to take his profession more seriously while at the Stadio delle Alpi.

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“Zlatan came from Ajax and he was just playing for fun, scoring was an optional for him,” Capello told Sky Sport 24.

“With the potential he had, he had to look for the net more and stop performing like it was a circus. I had to make him understand this thing to make him that great player he is, because he still proves it at the age of 38. It's all been down to him: I only gave him suggestions and he put into practice.”

Ibrahimovic went on to become a prolific hitman at Inter, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and the LA Galaxy. He is currently in his second spell with the Rossoneri, having scored three goals in eight matches since returning in January.

Meanwhile, Capello admits that he has not always had so much success helping players attain the peaks that their potential might allow and has one particular regret looking back on a career that has seen him take charge of the likes of AC Milan, Real Madrid, Roma and England.

“Antonio Cassano is my biggest regret,” he said. “I couldn’t make him the great player he could have been. I worked so hard but I didn’t do it.

“I heard from him a few days ago. His wife has since put him in line. I asked him why he didn’t marry at 21!”

Cassano retired in 2017, having played for many of Italy’s top clubs as well as Real Madrid.